Hockey’s popularity is rising in the United States, and although it is nowhere near the fan base of football or basketball, people are starting to realize how entertaining the game can be. One of those reasons is because fighting in hockey is allowed and encouraged during the contest.

Yes, fighting is great for getting people out of their seats to cheer on two massive goons beating each other because people love violence.

Why is football so popular? Why did Grand Theft Auto IV beat the video game record? There is even a show where people brutally kill zombies. Violence is a by-product of hockey and it is in the game because it sells tickets and changes momentum.

That’s not to say that I completely believe that ticket sales will drastically go down if fighting was outlawed in the NHL—National Hockey League—but I think those who follow the game expect to see their team try to shift the momentum when needed.

If baseball players were not allowed to steal anymore, it gives their team an edge without scoring and has been a part of the game forever. With that gone, the atmosphere in the arena would be different. If a team comes out flat and is getting beaten, there would be no way to combat the sloppy play without mentally giving up or someone giving a dirty hit.

For those who do not know, fighting in hockey is mostly used to give one team a spark. It is basically saying, “Hey if I’m going to step up and fight the biggest guy on their team, what are you gonna do?” It is a little easier than scoring a goal and gets the point across quickly.

Of course, there always have been completely useless fights, like when goalie Ray Emery fought Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby this year. General managers are meeting this month to discuss outlawing goalie fights and I am all for that because most goalies are defenseless.

Some skaters can reach almost 30 MPH. At the same time, a goalie has five guys that want to ring the bell, whack ‘em with hockey sticks and there is no out-of-bounds. If a player tries to throw the puck over the boards, they will get a penalty.

The way the game is played is a recipe for aggression.

Tempers get built up because of hitting, frustrating play and sooner or later in the NHL, someone will drop the gloves.

Players like fighting, they want to keep it in the game, they know it is a part of the game and hope it will continue to be that way.  It is true, concussions are a result of fighting and there is even evidence suggested from numerous articles online including and ESPN that former player Derek Boogaard’s death was a result because of his role of a fighter on the ice.

Still, that has not changed players or owners minds about where the line should be drawn with aggression on the ice. If players who will suffer the consequences of fighting on and off the ice want to keep it in the game, then it should be.


Stephen Aruilio can be contacted at

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